“Playing Injun” on the Silver Screen

Since our recent discussion of Native American stereotypes within Western culture and issues of Native American agency, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Turner Classic Movie (TCM) is doing special programming this month called, “Race in Hollywood: Native Americans, Images on Film.”

Race in Hollywood

Seminal classics like Stagecoach (1939) and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) will be screened every Tuesday and Thursday of May. The “event” is being hosted by TCM icon Robert Osborne and Professor Hanay Geiogamah, director of the American Indian Studies Center at UCLA, so it will be prefaced by historical and contemporary commentary. The movies are even broken into thematic groups like Indians as noble savages, Native American actors and filmmakers, and non-Indians in Indian roles.[1]

TCM’s site is straightforward. Although it is a bit self-indulgent in design (there is prodigious use of eagle feathers and “native” fonts), there is great content. Specifically in the video section, where you can watch short clips from some of the movies being presented and wonderful commentary clips from Professor Geiogamah and Native American actors and filmmakers.

Check out the listings on TCM’s site and break out the popcorn!

[1] “Race in Hollywood: Native American Images on Film,” http://www.tcm.com/2010/naof/index.jsp.

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